Can social media help small businesses create a finanial plan? Or are they just another unproved marketing tool?

One relatively newer social media website is believed to be able to help businesses accomplish this feat. Pinterest, a virtual scrapbook for users and visual marketing site for businesses, is being touted as helping companies do more than maintain an online catalogue.

In a recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine, Tim Berry contends that formulating a business plan on Pinterest is not only possible, but illuminating. To illustrate his point, Berry shares his own Pinterest business plan.

Using an online web application for creating business plans, Berry utilized Pinterest to add images that would give depth and explanation to sections such as hypothetical strategy, target market and ownership, among others.

Through the exercise, Berry found that the social media website – a virtual pinboard – coincides with his own theory on long-term business plans, i.e. they’re more than stodgy formal documents – plans are changing and living, and Pinterest can help remind business owners to continue to review and revise them.

"The complete plan should be a collection of interrelated modules that lay out the goals of the business, the steps to achieve those goals, specific tasks and responsibilities, important milestones and dates, and basic metrics, including projected sales, costs, expenses, profits and cash flow," Berry explains.

Despite the numerous advantages such a format can provide business owners and entrepreneurs, including ease of access, it can also have its downsides. Most prominently, those include its lack of structure and inability to give sections proper headings or divide them into categories.

However, business owners should also be wary of segmenting Pinterest as only a business plan tool. One of its most effective roles for companies is a marketing boost as a result of its visual nature.

Businesses can post pictures of products or services being performed, but they can also share pictures from around the offices or subject matter that interests employees. This can forge a connection with consumers on a more informal level, giving them the feel for the company’s culture and more chances to engage.

For example, The Los Angeles Times shares a story about a greeting card company that has grown popular for poking fun at the website and its aspirational role by posting a card that reads, "I'm really looking forward to the non-existent wedding you’re planning on Pinterest."

The key for businesses to remember is that the social media site is what they make of it. Draw up a set of goals and benchmarks and develop a strategy from there.